Varadkar says Dublin Bus savings ‘have to be made’

Company and unions told to reflect on dispute after fourth vote against proposals

Striking bus drivers picket   outside Dublin Bus Ringsend Garage in Dublin on August 4th.  Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Striking bus drivers picket outside Dublin Bus Ringsend Garage in Dublin on August 4th. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Wed, Sep 4, 2013, 16:31

Christopher McKinley

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has called on Dublin Bus management and unions to resolve their dispute and said the proposed €11.7 million in savings “have to be made”.

The Minister was speaking after Dublin Bus drivers yesterday rejected proposal to resolve the ongoing industrial dispute with the company.

“It’s the fourth time now that Dublin Bus drivers have rejected a solution put forward by the LRC, negotiated by their union leaders,” he said. “Savings have to be made.”

The Minister said the company and unions needed to reflect on the ballot result.

Yesterday Dublin Bus confirmed a revised set of proposals to address the concerns of the company’s drivers were rejected in a ballot of drivers.

Dublin Bus said it was “extremely disappointed” with the outcome of the ballot. A company spokeswoman said the company cannot confirm what action they will take next.

The continuation of the dispute is negatively impacting on the company’s finances to the tune of about €1 million per month.

Drivers went on strike for three consecutive days starting on the August Bank weekend after the company unilaterally imposed the cost savings.

As part of the agreement which saw the strike the company agreed to temporarily suspend the imposition of the cuts.

Clerical, craft, operative, engineering supervisor, inspector and executive workers all accepted a set of revised Labour court proposals following a ballot of Siptu’s Dublin Bus members last month.

The union represents approximately 1,200 drivers, about half the 2,500 total, and 450 other worker grades in Dublin Bus.

The company’s management held meetings last week with Siptu and the NBRU (National Bus and Rail Union), after previous Labour Court recommendations to end the ongoing dispute had not been accepted.

After drivers rejected a previous proposal assistant general secretary of the NBRU Dermot O’Leary said “if the company unilaterally imposes changes then obviously we have no action but to go back on strike”.

At that time he also said the current strike action is only “suspended” on foot of a request by the Labour Court.

Members of Irish Rail had previously expressed a view to the NBRU that they didn’t want to stand “idly” by and see their Dublin Bus colleagues “alone on the picket line”.